Habari Asubui Rafiki’s! (Good morning friends!)
Well… we are finally “connected” and are happy to say that we have more than made it safe and sound to be with our brothers and sisters in Nyahururu! The team has had an eventful few days so far since leaving home and I wish I had the time and space to tell you all of the stories… but I’d be here a long, long time!
First of all, we are so thankful to God and to all who are praying for our team… words cannot express how God has provided, sustained and blessed us so far in this trip. Right from the start… we sensed God’s presence & peace with us through all circumstances… and as I said, it’s been fairly eventful so far!
To begin with, it was Mary’s first time on a plane. (She tells us she even gave away a trip she won a few years ago to Hong Kong because she was too afraid to fly!) But God met her right where she was at, being willing to step out so far out of her comfort zone… and once the initial shock of taxi-ing down the run way was out of the way (we’d not even left the ground yet and she needed a little extra re-assurance from Franklyn and Val that all was ok) she was good to go! She loved it! We were so thrilled to see her fear turn to excitement and joy as she experienced this kind of travel for the first time.
We had a great trip… KLM is our new favorite airline! All went so smoothly (Even the food was really good!) and for the first time… all our luggage arrived with us! What a blessing that was for us and for Irungu, who picked us up at the airport. We cleared customs and got on the road in record time!
We had a very comfortable night in Nairobi at a guest house run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, one of our usual places to stay there… and got up bright and early the next morning. Only one little hic-up… (which I forgot all about)… the Seventh Day Adventist’s don’t use caffeine… so no coffee or tea at breakfast. So first stop on our way “home” was to the Nairobi Java House (Kenya’s equivelent to Starbuck’s… though far more reasonably priced) for big coffee’s all aound! It was a welcome treat for the team! And Mary was downright relieved to get her morning coffee!
We travelled straight to Nakuru (With a quick stop at a lookout over the Great Rift Valley.. which is breathtaking, and provided the ladies with their first high preassure “shopping” experience!) and arrived by lunchtime. Irungu and Mwengi (our amazing drivers!) had us stop for lunch at a nice hotel downtown before we headed out for the safari. It was a great introdution to Kenyan cuisine for this team of “newbie’s” who were a little afraid before leaving that the food would be difficult for them. There was a great mix of Kenyan and more American dishes that they could try… so far so good… the ladies really enjoyed all of it.
Off we went to Lake Nakuru… other wise known as “The Pink Lake” as it is literally filled with flamigos! It truly is an awesome sight and in all the years I’ve visited here… I have to say, God truly blessed these women… we were treated to the most sightings of wild life… both different kinds and an abundance of them.. more than I’d ever seen here before. I was a little concerned as I know they (especially Franklyn) were so looking forward to seeing giraffe, and I’d only seen one in this park many years ago and it was quite a distance away. I was afraid they would be disappointed… but God had another plan! Near the end of the day, we saw not just one, but two “families” of giraffe… in the second group there were at least a dozen and they were congregated only a few feet from the road. The ladies went crazy! They were so excited! I think between the 5 of us we now have a library of a hundred or so photographs of giraffe! 😀 It was so great to see them enjoying this so much! I was so blessed!
As well as the giraffe, we saw hundreds of water buffalo, thousands of flamingos, lots of zebra, storks, spider monkeys, rhinos, gazelle, waterbuck, … and on and on… so much to see…oh, and the baboons. There were quite a few families of baboons and at one point Val and Phyllis had a closer encounter than they expected with one big guy! He was quite interested in our car full of ladies and came up to have a closer look at us! I’ve not seen Val move so fast as she did to roll up the window when he got really close to the van! Good to know her reflexes kick in when it’s really required!
We headed out of the park and towards home around 6:00pm in order to get in by sundown. We ran into a little rain (which is so welcome here) on the way to Nyahururu so it slowed us up a bit. But we have the best drivers… who got us home safe and sound just after sunset. It was actually a beautiful time of day to drive home as it was light enough for all to see the countryside, the mountains, tea and coffee plantations settled in amongst the various towns we passed though, as well as the great rift valley again as we drove in and out of it… the acacia trees dotting the hills against the sunset… it was wonderful.
And to end this almost perfect (though, very long!) day… we arrived to the PACE guesthouse to a big warm fire in the fireplace, a hot meal all ready for us and a very warm welcome and hugs from our hostess, Glenda Ngamau and her children. We literally dropped our bags in our rooms, congregated in the great room to be officially greeted by Ngamau (the eldest son who spoke on behalf of his family as his father was still away) and welcomed us to Kenya and to their home. We join our hearts in thanking God for a safe journey, an amazing day, and the meal and fellowship we’d enjoy this evening! We enjoyed a true Kenyan home cooked meal of chicken, cabbage, a lentil and carrot stew, mashed potatoes, warm biscuits and hot tea. So good… we felt like we’d truly arrived “home” for our time here. We had some time to connect and re-connect with our host family before we all headed of to bed for the night.
I have been truly amazed and blessed by this team of ladies who have so embraced all of the Kenyan culture and ways. Even as we arrived to the house that first evening to no running water and to be informed that their would be no electricity the next day… the women handled it with grace and a positive spirit that I know was a great encouragement to our hosts and a great blessing to me. They have truly taken on a “go with the flow attitude” that has served to allow God to stretch and grow us even in the very short time we’ve been here already. Since then, the water has come back and then unexpectedly shut down again after supper last night… the ladies didn’t miss a beat.. very thankful for the “Plan B” Glenda has in place for these times… not a word of complaint or discouragement… and these circumstances (among others) has allowed our team to really grow together in unity as well… God is truly answering our prayers! We are so grateful!
Yesterday (Thursday) we had a bit of a down day to recover from all of the travel, spend some time in extended personal devotions, spend some time praying together, debriefing on the time so far and beginning to prepare for camp next week. After lunch we headed into Nyahururu town so the ladies could get familiar with the area and do a little shopping as the Kenyans do! As the electricity was out for the day… all the shops were open but many were darker inside, being only lit by the front windows. Most had generators, but mainly just to keep the cash registers and a few main lights going. The Kenyans are very resourceful people… in times like these, they do what they can to keep going, despite these inconveniences! Good lessons to be learned from them!
The team really enjoyed their time spent in town… in true Kenyan style… we were about 20 min. or so late to meet back with our driver as we got a little caught up in the town market. There are so many things to see and so many people to navigate one’s way through… it can be a little overwhelming, but the ladies had a hoot! Franklyn and Mary would often stop along the way to greet the children they saw… some were a little shy, but some were quite taken with these “strange” looking ladies who made them giggle! 😀 Phyllis is becoming quite the negotiator in the market… I think I will have her do all my shopping for me that requires bartering, before she goes home! She is good!! She has no problem letting the sales people know what she is willing to spend… being fair but not being taken! 🙂
Today (Friday) is our first day serving at PACE. It was so great to come and see and meet the teachers and staff here. They are so welcoming and happy to have visitors and co-laborers! As I write, Phyllis, Val, Frankyn and Mary are down in the PAST Library helping the librarian, Mr. Kago, label and catalouge books to be added to the shelves. Phyllis, who is a school librarian back in Canada, is of course, in her glory in this work and has already made a special connection to her new “supervisor!”
We are all so happy to be here to get down to work. Though they were very grateful to have had a chance to enjoy and get eased in and somewhat familier with Kenya, the culture, and this area they will call home for a while, we are all anxious to get into the work and ministry that we have come here to engage in. We are all very happy to have finally met with and begin to get to know (and know more) the people who we will be serving alongside here at PACE. What a joy to finally be here! I can’t tell you how many times one of the ladies has all of the sudden stopped, looked up and exclaimed “WE’RE IN KENYA!!!” “WE’RE IN AFRICA!” It’s still sinking in!
Well… the girls have just arrived into the office and we will take lunch now! And they tell me the 10 minutes I spent this morning working in the library doesn’t cut it… so I guess I’m done writing for today! 😀
We will be in touch again soon! Thank you again for all of your prayers… God is answering abundantly! We are so grateful and full of thanks to Him! Please do keep praying! Please pray for continued energy, perseverence, team unity, srength, a sense of God’s presence in all we encounter… in circumstances and as we develop relationships here. Please do pray specifically for the Ngamau family over the next few weeks as Wachira’s mother passed away yesterday morning (Thursday) at 6:00 am. She had been quite ill, but of course this is a great loss and will be a big adjustment for this family who is all very close. At 95 years, she had been blessed with a full life, a big family and a faith in the Lord that her family has embraced. God has been so good to this family and we trust He will meet them in this time as well. Thank you advance for your prayers for them.
And with that I say, “Kwaheri” (goodbye) for now!
The team sends their love and God’s peace and we will connect again soon!
Have a blessed day!
Sheryl, Phyllis, Mary, Val and Franklyn